The transit of Venus; the clouds of PA

We were all psyched to watch the transit of Venus yesterday. This phenomenon — when Venus can be seen crossing over the sun — happens roughly twice a century, but those two occurrences are close together. The last one was 2004. Then there was yesterday. The next one will be in 2117.

All the media outlets were trying to press the loss aversion button: you won’t be alive to see the next one! So it was a wee bit disappointing that, at 6:00 p.m. yesterday, as the transit began, there was a stubborn cloud cover in this part of Pennsylvania. It lasted through the evening, until Venus had gone on its merry way.

So we didn’t see it. But I had two thoughts. First, I saw a lot of photos online that are of far better quality than what I would have seen with a piece of cardboard featuring a pinhole in my backyard. So I didn’t miss it, per se. Much in life is recorded these days. Once upon a time, kids waited a whole year to see the annual broadcast of The Wizard of Oz. These days? You get it as soon as you want it.

But beyond that, who is this “you” who won’t be alive? I won’t. But my kids are 5, 2, and 8 months. I’ve had relatives live into their 90s. Perhaps in the next 100 years we’ll push the boundaries of lifespan a bit farther. Women tend to live longer than men; it’s certainly possible that my baby daughter, having missed the transit of Venus this time around, will see it at age 105 in 2117. Maybe she’ll be sitting in a backyard somewhere with her great-grandchildren, watching them view the sun with whatever gizmos they have in the 22nd century. I hope so.

(Cue Mary Chapin Carpenter’s Halley came to Jackson here…)

Did you see the transit of Venus?

Photo courtesy flickr user Robert Couse-Baker

3 thoughts on “The transit of Venus; the clouds of PA

  1. I’m the worst. This is the first I heard of it. Downside to avoiding the news, and only reading blogs while nursing. But looks like I would’ve missed it anyways (I live in your general vicinity, I think), and now I’ve seen the awesome pictures! 🙂

    1. @Ana- the pictures are totally better than we would have seen live. This is the reality of modern life. Everything is recorded, and the best recordings rise to the top, thus ensuring that the masses can see things better than the naked eye…

  2. Yes, I did see the transit of Venus at the Washburn Observatory on the UW campus-momentarily, when the sun passed in & out from behind the clouds! And yes, some things are really worth seeing for real in real time and place, even just a fleeting glimpse.

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